David Rice Atchison
Inducted - Monday, February 18, 1991
Sculptor: William J. Williams
Where is David Rice Atchison in the Hall of Famous Missourians?
David Rice Atchison has the singular honor of having served as U.S. President for one day. In 1830 he moved to Liberty, Missouri, and set up a law practice there. Atchison's practice flourished, and his best-known client was Mormon leader Joseph Smith, Jr.. Atchison represented Smith in land disputes with non-Mormon settlers in Caldwell County and Daviess County.
In October 1843, Atchison was appointed to the U.S. Senate. He became the first senator from western Missouri. At age 36, he was the youngest senator from Missouri up to that time. On March 4, 1849, General Zachary Taylor refused to be inaugurated because it was a Sunday. As President Pro Tempore, and therefore Acting Vice President under the presidential succession law in place at the time, Atchison was believed by some to be Acting President. He served six terms as President Pro Tem. By right of succession, he also was U.S. Vice President from April 18, 1853, until December 4, 1854, by virtue of the death of President Franklin Pierce's vice president, William R. King. He is buried in his home of Plattsburg, Missouri, where a statue honors him in front of the Clinton County Courthouse.